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NATO's Intervention in Libya: A Genuine Action to Protect a Civilian Population in Mortal Danger or an Intervention Aimed at Regime Change?

The article considers the state of human rights in Libya and NATO operations from the perspective of jus ad bellum and in light of United Nations Security Council (UN SC) resolutions. It also takes into account other points connected to the use of force, such as rescue operations to save nationals of intervening States, the consistency of Italy’s participation in the hostilities with the Italian-Libyan Treaty of 2008 and duty of non-intervention, as well as the question of whether any room is left for neutrality after the SC resolutions. The use of force was authorised by the UN SC in order to protect civilians and the civilian population under threat of attack. NATO bombing went far beyond the SC authorisation however, and resulted in a change of regime. From the standpoint of humanitarian intervention, the Libyan conflict shows that the use of force for humanitarian purposes is not allowed without a SC authorisation and the “responsibility to protect” doctrine does not give third States the power to effect a complete substitution of the constituted government in its duty to protect its own population. The Libyan adventure can be seen to further demonstrate that humanitarian intervention cannot reach its objectives without a change in the regime in power in the targeted country. However, such regime change was not authorised by Resolution 1973.